England v India, 3rd ODI, Trent Bridge August 30, 2014

Ringmaster Dhoni encircles England

This India team are still coming together but at the first sign of a pitch that suited their strengths they were all over England

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Agarkar: India a different team when spinners do well

It was a nice, warm day in the middle of what had now begun to look autumn in England. The pitch was slow and low, much like the Test in July. To add to its woes from the Test, Trent Bridge this time turned. Around the end of the first innings, the English supporters began to trickle out and James Anderson was booed, just in case you felt India weren't at home.

England were meek against spin, the conditions came gift-wrapped, but India need to be credited for having bounced back from the battering in Tests. Even on the day India had to come back from having made the wrong decision after winning the toss. MS Dhoni said he was surprised the pitch turned so much, and that it didn't cost India much because England had only one spinner.

India were switched on even before England got hypnotised by the concentric circles the spinners drew around them. They had been attacked by Alex Hales in the second ODI, in Cardiff, but here they suffocated him in the first part of his innings. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who swings the ball both ways, kept bringing the ball in towards Hales' pads. You could see Hales was itchy. The first time Hales really got any room to play was in the fifth over. He got a single then that took him to 3 off nine balls. In the next over, Hales manufactured two cover drives from just outside off by staying stuck on the leg stump. To those kind of shots, you say, well played, and move on.

Yet Alastair Cook kept riding his luck, Hales batted well and Mohit Sharma got injured. Even in the first over of spin, Hales lofted R Ashwin over mid-off for four. And then one ball turned. From round the wicket, against the angle. Once it starts turning, Dhoni and India become a completely different team. Those concentric circles converge in no time. And when conditions are such, Dhoni finds another legitimate bowler in Suresh Raina. He was introduced early in this match because of Mohit's injury but once Hales perished trying to sweep him, India and Dhoni were all over England.

India's comfort then, and England's desperation, didn't quite befit a start of 82 for 1 in 18 overs. Then again such is India's confidence in these conditions. When you know the batsmen are not going to take you on, there is no need to send the field back. Dhoni continued to attack, and India's fielders in the ring gave nothing away. Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Raina, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are a set of fielders as good as any in limited-overs cricket. Mohit, back on the field, even ran out Ian Bell with a direct hit.

"I was surprised by how much it turned," Dhoni said. "That really brought our spinners into the game. I felt Raina's spell was crucial because Mohit got injured and we were not really sure whether he would come back and bowl the seven overs he had to bowl. So I had to get those seven overs from the part-timers. I am happy that Raina and Rayudu contributed more than the seven overs and there was less pressure on me."

Raina's entry into the team has not only brought some much-needed energy, it has also given India a good slips fielder. He is steadier in stance than other youngsters, and he reacts better than other youngsters. The catch he took low to his right to send back Ben Stokes back came in for much praise. It is a shame Raina hasn't the runs in Test cricket, or India would be closer to solving one of their slips problems.

"It is a fantastic performance by the whole team," Dhoni said. "What was brilliant, apart from the bowling, was the fielding also. Bell's wicket at that point of time was very crucial. Raina's catch in the slips. Those are the things that really helps you as a team."

It also helps that Dhoni knows his angles. His in-and-out fields for spinners are immaculate. Nobody gets the straight short midwicket quite as right as he does. Many a time England batsmen tapped floated half-volleys from spinners to that man whereas India kept taking easy singles to long-on and long-off off similar deliveries.

And Dhoni standing up to the stumps is a completely different wicketkeeper. Standing back he tends to not go for catches between himself and first slip, but you rarely see him miss catches or stumpings off spinners. He had a hand in all of the first four dismissals. The best of those was a catch and a stumping down the leg side when Ambati Rayudu speared one past Cook. Just like that, only one boundary arrives in close to 16 overs, wickets fall, England are only surviving during the Powerplay, and India have a sub-par total to chase.

How India will wish Dhoni could stand up to all the bowlers. Some magic happens when he does so. Dhoni also knows playing on turning tracks against a side as ordinary against spin as England is not the right measure of his ODI side. "We will still need a bit more time," Dhoni said. "It is not an easy thing to do. We have to judge people under different scenarios, under pressure what they do, if they are supposed to play freely and how they do play.

"So overall, it looks like a good team: if you look at the batting order itself, it is a fantastic one. If Rohit [Sharma] gets fit, at the top of the order or if he is batting in the middle, it is looking good. But still there are a few areas there is a still a bit of concern: bowling still we need to work on wickets where there is no turn and spinners are not that effective. If you don't take wickets in the middle overs that really puts a lot of pressure on the bowlers."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sid on September 2, 2014, 21:58 GMT

    It is obvious that the ball used in the match is making all the difference. It is strange that none of the experts are pointing it out. Red ball used in England test matches, swings lot more than the white ball used in the ODI. Indian batsmen are not used to this red duke ball, English batsmen are brought up playing with this ball. So the English batsmen have the skill to counter the swinging red duke ball and the Indian batsmen don't, because they grew up playing with the SG ball in First Class Cricket. The nature of the cricket ball varies with its manufacturer. White Kookaburra balls are used in One Day Internationals and T20Is, while red Kookaburras are used in Tests played in most of the 10 Test-playing nations, the exceptions being the West Indies and England teams, who use Dukes, and India, who use SG balls. Since the white ball does not swing, Indian Batsmen find it very easy to play with it in the ODI games.

  • Android on September 1, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    dhoni can as well be a similar magician with the fast bowlers if he wants.... earmark these 5 guys - Aaron/umesh yadav/bhuvi/shami and ishant... they are good enough to play all 3 formats.. give them the best possible staff by creating a fast bowler team - a good fast bowling coach (akram/srinath/Ambrose/McGrath etc); a fitness expert and a mental conditioning expert... continuosly monitor their fitness and skills in 3 month intervals...then go to the fringe players - mohit/ishwar pandey/pankaj Singh/dhawal kulkarni etc

  • Sandeep on September 1, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Surely, Dhoni can't ignore how brittle this batting line up looked on those fast seaming pitches at NZ, SA ....There's a lot of work to be done if India wants to end in the top 4 at the WC next year ..as of now , except for Sa, Aus ( who seem to be miles ahead with their bowling and batting ) all other teams seem to be equally poised to compete at the WC

  • Senguttuvan on September 1, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    England ready for whitewash

  • uncle bob on August 31, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    MS is a genius and knows his players very well. In tests he lavks one good bowler of the caliber of Steyn. He will be invincible. In the lacvk of that strike bowler he is unable to attack. A few fans giving Shastri the credit of team wins is hilarious.

  • Ashok on August 31, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    It is more Sastri's Mantra of playing as a Team with grit & determination that has turned this Indian team around. Shastri was scathing in his comments in the Media of calling the Indian batting "spineless" & that this team lacked Guts. But he put his Money where his Mouth is by talking to the Team on One-to-one + collectively. He was seen talking to Dhawan on the balcony on what appeared to be reviewing his cheap dismissal. Every Team player should be held accountable for his batting, bowling or fielding lapses. This is really Dhoni's job! But when he does not talk to his players, someone like Shastri needs to step in do that job. I credit Shastri more than any single Guy for this turn around. There are 5 great new guys in ODI squad who have make the Test squad ordinary. Raina, Rayudu. Yadev, karn Sharma & Sanju Samson. Dhoni has included only Raina in ODI 2 but added Rayudu too in ODI 3 - 2 batting heroes. Replace Mohit & Jadeja with Umesh & Karn Sharma to have a real Great XI!

  • Sudhakar on August 31, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    @DipanjanMitra: Sanjay Manjrekar summed up wonderfully well, on his views on the MoM award. The logic is that this pitch was definitely not a 220s pitch. Rather it was one good enough for a near 300 or 300+ score. The bowler who stuck key blows at key times to restrict England to 220s deserved the credit for turning the match on its head. True, Rayudu played a very good knock. And for someone who had to come in and fill the shoes of Rohit Sharma, it was a great effort. But it did not define the match. Hence Ashwin's nomination was the right choice.

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Sid Monga wrote: "...It is a shame Raina hasn't the runs in Test cricket, or India would be closer to solving one of their slips problems..."

    Yes, it is a shame...,certainly a shame that the selectors had NOT noticed that Raina-II is a much improved version, as opposed to Raina -I, when it comes to batting skills AND MINDSET. Sid had mentioned in an earlier piece, how much Raina has improved. After Raina got dropped from the team, he got re-wired by Pravin Amre, whose coaching skills also haven't reached the radar of the BCCI, yet.

    I certainly think, Raina-II , the improved version, will do well in the test side too.

    And, by the way, coaching skills of guys like Amre can do as much, if not more, as the coaxing skills of guys like Ravi Shastri. May be, combined effect of both may be even better!

  • ESPN on August 31, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    He is the master of spinning track

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    England defeated a pathetic India in the test series and now India are defeating a pathetic England in the odi series. Perhaps there was some kind of gentleman's agreement for England to take the tests and India to take the odis, between Cook and Dhoni at the start of the tour. That would explain the captains odd decisions and their tendency not to care about the results too much. Or it might be a Machiavellian master plan by Alistair Cook and co to lull the Indians into a false sense of security about their ability ahead of the World Cup.

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